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Laurie Davidson

yacht designer (1926 - 2021)

Laurie Davidson (Lawrence Karl Davidson) was born in Dargaville in 1926, and is among the best-known and most successful yacht designers in New Zealand.

After leaving school, in 1969 he went to work in Morley Sutherland's boat building business in Greenhithe, a suburb of Auckland.

Laurie Davidson has always designed racing and pleasure sailing boats of different sizes. His creations are always original, innovative and successful.

In 1970 Tony Bouzaid commissioned him to design the Blitzkrieg half tonner which, in addition to designing, helmed, winning the New Zealand championship in the class.
Encouraged by this success Davidson purchased an Olivetti computer and with the software provided by Sparkman & Stephens began to use the new technology to design yachts.

In 1976 Laurie Davidson designed Fun, a trailerable quarter ton.

Among his most important projects, starting from 1976, are the half tonner Waverider, again for Tony Bouzaid, with which he won the world class championship in 1978 and 1979, and Pendragon with which he won both the world class three quarters than that of the one tonners always in the IOR (International Offshore Rule) classes.

Laurie Davidson, despite having a very long and glorious career as a nautical designer, is mainly known as the designer who designed some of the boats for the America's Cup.

He worked as principal designer for Team New Zealand in 1995 and 2000.
He later collaborated with Bruce Nelson and Phil Kaiko in the design of the two boats of the One World Challenge team.

Black Magic (NZL 32) as a successful challenger and defender saw him in the design team composed of Tom Schnackenberg, Doug Peterson, David Egan, Peter Jackson, Maury Leyland, David Alan-Williams, Anthony Lehmann, Richard Karn, Wayne Smith, Mike Drumond, Chris Mitchell and Neil Wilkinson.

Black Magic wins the America's Cup in 1995 by beating the American defender Young America 5-0 in San Diego, California.

Laurie Davidson has been part of prestigious design teams for several America's Cup "campaigns" collaborating with some other very successful designers such as Bruce Farr and Ron Holland in the 1987 Fremantle edition with "Plastic fantastic".

Davidson's output and influence across yacht design is profound: from dinghies to three-quarter and one-ton world champions, to winners of Sydney-Hobart and regattas around the world. In the hands of a good crew his boats have never been far from the podium.

Among his successful designs beyond those mentioned, the VOR 60 Djuice Dragons, as well as the Cavaliers 28, 32 and 36 (1970 - 1976) and the Dash 34 (1981 - 1984).

Laurie Davidson dies in Auckland, aged 94, on 4 October 2021.